1) What Makes Popcorn Pop? Each kernel of popcorn contains a drop of water stored inside a circle of soft starch. (That’s why popcorn needs to contain 13.5 percent to 14 percent moisture.) The soft starch is surrounded by the kernel’s hard outer surface. As the kernel heats up, the water begins to expand, and pressure builds against the hard starch. Eventually, this hard surface gives way, causing the popcorn to “explode”. As the popcorn explodes, the soft starch inside the popcorn becomes inflated and bursts, turning the kernel inside out. The steam inside the kernel is released, and the popcorn is popped!
2) Types of Popcorn Kernels: The two basic types of popcorn kernels are “butterfly” and “mushroom”. The butterfly kernel is large and fluffy with many “wings” protruding from each kernel. Buttefly kernels are the most common type of popcorn. The mushroom kernel is more dense and compact and is shaped like a ball. Mushroom kernels are perfect for processes that require heavy handling of the kernels such as coating.
3) Understanding Expansion: The pop expansion test is performed with a Cretors Metric Weight Volumetric Test. This test is recognized as the standard by the popcorn industry. MWVT is the measurement of cubic centimeters of popped corn per 1 gram of unpopped corn (cc/g). A reading of 46 on the MWVT means that 1 gram of unpopped corn converts into 46 cubic centimeters of popped corn. The higher the MWVT number, the greater the volume of popped corn per weight of unpopped corn.
4) Understanding Kernel Size: Kernel size is measured in K/10g or kernels per 10 grams. In this test 10 grams of popcorn are measured out and the kernels are counted. The higher the kernel count the smaller the kernel size. The expansion of popcorn is not directly influenced by the kernel size.
5) The History of Popcorn:
· Though popcorn probably originated in Mexico, it was grown in China, Sumatra and India years before Columbus visited America.
· Biblical accounts of “corn” stored in the pyramids of Egypt are misunderstood. The “corn” from the bible was probably barley. The mistake comes from a changed use of the word “corn,” which used to signify the most-used grain of a specific place. In England, “corn” was wheat, and in Scotland and Ireland the word referred to oats. Since maize was the common American “corn,” it took that name — and keeps it today.
· The oldest known corn pollen is scarcely distinguishable from modern corn pollen, judging by the 80,000-year-old fossil found 200 feet below Mexico City.
· It is believed that the first use of wild and early cultivated corn was popping.
· The oldest ears of popcorn ever found were discovered in the Bat Cave of west central New Mexico in 1948 and 1950. Ranging from smaller than a penny to about 2 inches, the oldest Bat Cave ears are about 5,600 years old.
· In tombs on the east coast of Peru, researchers have found grains of popcorn perhaps 1,000 years old. These grains have been so well-preserved that they will still pop.
· In southwestern Utah, a 1,000-year-old popped kernel of popcorn was found in a dry cave inhabited by predecessors of the Pueblo Indians.
· A Zapotec funeral urn found in Mexico and dating from about 300 A.D. depicts a Maize god with symbols representing primitive popcorn in his headdress.
· Ancient popcorn poppers — shallow vessels with a hole on the top, a single handle sometimes decorated with a sculptured motif such as a cat, and sometimes decorated with printed motifs all over the vessel — have been found on the north coast of Peru and date back to the pre-Incan Mohica Culture of about 300 A.D.
· Most popcorn from 800 years ago was tough and slender-stalked. The kernels themselves were quite resilient. Even today, winds sometimes blow desert sands from ancient burials, exposing kernels of popped corn that look fresh and white but are many centuries old.
· By the time Europeans began settling in the “New World,” popcorn and other corn types had spread to all Native American tribes in North and South America, except those in the extreme northern and southern areas of the continents. More than 700 types of popcorn were being grown, many extravagant poppers had been invented, and popcorn was worn in the hair and around the neck. There was even a widely consumed popcorn beer.
· When Columbus first arrived to the West Indies, the natives tried to sell popcorn to his crew.
· In 1519, Cortes got his first sight of popcorn when he invaded Mexico and came into contact with the Aztecs. Popcorn was an important food for the Aztec Indians, who also used popcorn as decoration for ceremonial headdresses, necklaces and ornaments on statues of their gods, including Tlaloc, the god of maize, rain and fertility.
· An early Spanish account of a ceremony honoring the Aztec gods who watched over fishermen reads: “They scattered before him parched corn, called momochitl, a kind of corn which bursts when parched and discloses its contents and makes itself look like a very white flower; they said these were hailstones given to the god of water.”
· Writing of Peruvian Indians in 1650, the Spaniard Cobo says, “They toast a certain kind of corn until it bursts. They call it pisancalla, and they use it as a confection.”
· Early French explorers through the Great Lakes region (circa 1612) reported that the Iroquois popped popcorn in a pottery vessel with heated sand and used it to make popcorn soup, among other things.
· The English colonists were introduced to popcorn at the first Thanksgiving Feast at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Quadequina, brother of the Wampanoag chief Massasoit, brought a deerskin bag of popped corn to the celebration as a gift.
· Native Americans would bring popcorn “snacks” to meetings with the English colonists as a token of goodwill during peace negotiations.
· Colonial housewives served popcorn with sugar and cream for breakfast — the first “puffed” breakfast cereal eaten by Europeans. Some colonists popped corn using a cylinder of thin sheet-iron that revolved on an axle in front of the fireplace like a squirrel cage.
· Popcorn was very popular from the 1890s until the Great Depression. Street vendors used to follow crowds around, pushing steam or gas-powered poppers through fairs, parks and expositions.
· During the Depression, popcorn at 5 or 10 cents a bag was one of the few luxuries down-and-out families could afford. While other businesses failed, the popcorn business thrived. An Oklahoma banker who went broke when his bank failed bought a popcorn machine and started a business in a small store near a theater. After a couple years, his popcorn business made enough money to buy back three of the farms he’d lost.
· During World War II, sugar was sent overseas for U.S. troops, which meant there wasn’t much sugar left in the States to make candy. Thanks to this unusual situation, Americans ate three times as much popcorn as usual.
· Popcorn went into a slump during the early 1950s, when television became popular. Attendance at movie theaters dropped and, with it, popcorn consumption. When the public began eating popcorn at home, the new relationship between television and popcorn led to a resurge in popularity.
· Microwave popcorn — the very first use of microwave heating in the 1940s — has already accounted for $240 million in annual U.S. popcorn sales in the 1990s.
· Americans today consume 17.3 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. The average American eats about 68 quarts.
Post time: Apr-06-2021